David R. Henderson  

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Kling vs. NY Times... Canada's Central Bank...

In response to Tyler Cowen's statement that Arnold Kling "wasn't guilty of anything in the first place, except perhaps having exaggerated the coercive nature of taxation," commenter Laserlight asks:

Are you suggesting that taxation is not coercive? If I just ask the IRS very very nicely, I'll be able to keep my money and they won't seize my bank account or property?

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COMMENTS (7 to date)

Harry Reid recently made the claim in a television interview that taxes in the U.S. are voluntary, and wouldn't be dissuaded.

Luiz writes:

Well, in all fairness, reporting one's taxes is voluntary. Actual payment of taxes is appreciably more mandatory in nature.

diz writes:

No, you just pull a Geithner.

It's not income if you can't rememeber getting it.

Ak Mike writes:

Luiz, if you mean by "reporting one's taxes," filing a return, it's not so voluntary. 26 U.S.C. sec. 7203 provides for up to a year in prison and a $25,000 fine for individuals who willfully fail to file their returns. That's separate and apart from the criminal penalties for failure to pay the taxes.

Zac writes:

I usually like Tyler, but his desire to make libertarian appeal to the masses makes him say some pretty inconsistently foolish things.

kurt writes:

Does Tyler actually describe himself as libertarian?

Bill Woolsey writes:

I am a libertarian, but I don't agree with the view that all taxes are theft. I see them as a way for people to purchase public goods, though they are obviously coercive.

Even from my moderate libertarian perspective, some tax and spending programs do reach the level of "theft." For example, raising taxes on other people (say, the rich) to provide government programs that you want. Or, being willing to pay some share of taxes, but with spending narrowly directed for something that benefits you. (I want it, let them pay for most of it.) Or, as in the situation that directly concerned Kling, making future generates pay for benefits to the current generation.

Actually, I see it as a matter of degree. When it gets too blatant, I "feel" (like Kling) that this is no different than robbery.

I believe this view is basic "Virginia school" reasoning. Real tax and spending politics mixes joint provision of public goods with rent seeking. But sometimes.. it is just very blatant.

I support debt financed government spending to reorganize the banking system--more like bankruptcy than bailout, but rapidly, like FDIC purchase and assumption reorganzations. The current proposals, which bailout the stockholders of money center banks, "feels" like theft to me.

(From the point of view of the stockholders, whose losses are being limited by these bailouts, of course, the management deserves bonuses. Their investments in the political system (bribes) are paying off big time. It was like put opitions to limit losses if the risks from lending into a real estate bubble went bad.)

I am not against a "fiscal" simulous, but a temporary investment tax credit or a temporary tax credit for consumer durables (as suggested by Feldstien) cutting the payroll tax (temporarily or permanently) and limiting (not avoiding) cuts in state and local spending would all seem plausibe to me. Naturally, this should all be done this spring, summer and fall.

But, I think that this should be "paid for" by cutting future government spending more than taxes over the next 10 years.

Oh, and of course, a more aggressive monetary policy remains the better appraoch. And, step one is to stop paying interest on reserves. Stop paying banks not to lend.

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